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Behind the HE headlines is one key question – the purpose of universities

The past week’s higher education news demonstrates that there are certain expectations of universities that policymakers, HE leaders and the Augar review are expected to address, says Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of the Engineering Professors’ Council and Chief Executive of outreach organisation Push .

30 VCs sign new Civic University Agreement

Leaders of thirty universities have signed a Civic University Agreement, reaffirming their institution's commitment to their local communities by pledging to put the economy and quality of life in their home towns and cities at the top of their list of priorities.

How to improve the student experience -- ask the students themselves

Jenny Shaw , Student Experience Director at Unite Students, draws lessons on the higher education sector's efforts to improve the student experience from a week of HE news and views.

HEi-think: Why universities should support two year degrees

From this September, students will be able to opt to study an accelerated two year degree, as opposed to a traditional three year course. Professor Malcolm Todd, Provost (Academic) at the University of Derby, discusses why universities should consider the change in legislation and look to offer accelerated degrees.

Brexit will not hit graduate jobs, say employers

Brexit is unlikely to affect the demand for graduates or halt an upward trend in the number of graduate jobs, some of the UK's largest employers have said.

The Institute of Student Employer's Pulse Survey 2019 has found that firms are increasing their apprentice and graduate vacancies by 27 per cent this year, offering more than 17,000 entry jobs, and nearly three quarters (70 per cent) do not expect Brexit will have any impact on their recruitment needs.

However, more than half (55 per cent) of employers admitted they were unable to find suitable candidates for entry-level jobs last year, with 1,839 jobs left unfilled, and there are concerns that Brexit may make it more difficult to source the talent they need. Filling specialist and technical jobs both at entry level and in more experienced roles is of greater concern than filling more general positions.  

Graduate roles continue to dominate the market, accounting for two thirds of posts. However, apprenticeships are growing much more rapidly than graduate jobs. Growth in vacancies is reflected in how much of the apprenticeship levy employers are spending, which is expected to increase by more than a quarter this year.

Demand for graduates has increased the most in the public sector (up 32 per cent). More graduate jobs are also more likely to be found in finance, fast-moving consumer goods, the built environment and IT.

The number of apprenticeships available has increased the most in retail and IT, up 128 per cent and 65 per cent respectively. While there is also significant demand for apprentices in energy, engineering and industry (up 40 per cent), this is the only sector to reduce the number of graduate jobs (3 per cent fall).

Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the ISE said: "It will be welcome news to students and graduates that companies are optimistic about the number of jobs they'll be offering this year. There are more routes into some of the country's best jobs and apprenticeships continue to grow at pace, suggesting the government's apprenticeship strategy is maturing and starting to have the desired effect.

"There are, however, concerns over the supply of talent: that the market is contracting and Brexit may compound the issue and make for an even tougher climate. Getting the specialist and technical skills necessary for businesses to not just survive, but also grow and thrive, will be vital over the coming months and years. Clarity is needed as soon as possible to enable employers to plan."

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